After a 4 hour plane ride, a 17 hour train ride, a 5 hour bus ride, another 1 hour truck ride, 7 rejection letters, and 5 hours of sleep, I was not at my best when Katie and I arrived at the Akha Hill People's Hotel in the mountains of Chiang Rai. Our room/cabin, however, was GORGEOUS.
Bright and early the next morning, we nommed on the "American Breakfast," which is just basically the option with the most food. Then we headed out on our trek. The first 20 minutes were brutal--very steep uphill. Grumpy Sophie was not pleased. But we soon got into the jungle, and our guides stopped to make us bamboo cups.
I actually would have paid good money for these if I had seen them on the street. Our two guides made these in like ten minutes. They decided to teach Khoar and me how to make them, but my machete skills are not up to par. There was a lot of lawlzing.
Afterwards, we trekked up to a river, where our guides taught us how to catch fish and crabs with our hands. For those of you who don't know me, I am horribly phobic of fish. If one touches me, I flip a shit. So Hoar and I let them do the fishing while I stood on a rock overseeing the process and Katie became obsessed with banana leaves.
This is the river where we, well I should say our guides, caught our lunch. Then, they smoked the fish and crab and crawfish in bamboo rods, made rice, and noddle soup, all using bamboo rods and banana leaves. AHHHHHH! Ridiculous. KHoar and I didn't want to tell them that neither of us like seafood so I ended up eating a crawfish and crab legs. Let me tell you, my intuitions not to ever eat anything that swims was 100% accurate. In general, I think my decisions not to try things are more often right than wrong; so remember this people whenever you try and make me try things. That was a HUGE step for me.
Then we did some more hiking around the jungle. The views were so beautiful, but there is like a constant bit of fog over the hills so the pictures really can't do the landscape justice.
We met some of the local Akha people when we brought them our leftover food.
Afterwards, we walked through some tea leave terraced hills down to a truck that took us to a river where a bunch of elephants were splashing around. We took a boat across the river, and got on Tom, a 20 year old elephant. Unlike my ride on Sonya (the Indian elephant), I got to ride on Tom's neck for most of the trip. IT WAS SO COOL. Seriously, Heffalumps are my favorite animals. Fun facts: they mourn when another dies, and they are a matriarchal society.
As much as we loved the Heffalumps, we had to leave them to finish the day with hot springs and waterfalls. Finally, some activities for my inner waterchild.
We finished the day out eating pad thai and drinking freshly squeezed orange juice in a treetop terrace overlooking the mountains. This whole trip (which was pretty expensive) was worth every penny.
I must say that, so far, I am really loving Thailand. The people are so incredibly polite, helpful, and respectful, especially in comparison with Indians. For instance, I decided to take the metro in Bangkok rather than pay 10 dollars for a taxi, and so I, of course, got incredibly lost. Two girls that barely spoke English spent half and hour helping me find my guesthouse, and they didn't even ask for a tip! For me, I think that no matter how beautiful a country is physically or historically, I can't love it if I don't love the people and the culture.